1. Aimless Wandering
Some aspirants have got the habit of wandering aimlessly. They cannot stick to one place even for a week. The wandering habit must be checked. They want to see new places, new faces and want to talk with new people. A rolling stone gathers no moss. A Sadhaka should stick to one place at least for a period of twelve years (one Tapas period). If his health is delicate, he can stay for six months in one place during summer and rainy seasons and in another place for six months during winter. During winter he can stay either at Rajpur (Dehra Dun) or Rishikesh. During summer he can go to Badrinath or Uttarakashi. Sadhana suffers if one wanders constantly. Those who want to do rigorous Tapas and Sadhana must stay in one place. Too much walking produces weakness and fatigue.2. Cessation of Sadhana
The aspirant is very enthusiastic in his Sadhana in the beginning. He is full of zeal. He takes a great deal of interest. He expects to get some results or Siddhis. When he does not get these results, he gets discouraged. He loses his interest in his Abhyasa and slackens his efforts. He gives up his Sadhana completely. He loses his faith in the efficacy of the Sadhana. Sometimes the mind gets disgusted with one particular kind of Sadhana. It wants some new kind of Sadhana. Just as mind wants some variety in food and other things, so also it wants variety in the mode of Sadhana. It rebels against monotonous practice. The aspirant should know how to coax the mind on such occasions and to extract work from it by a little relaxation of mind. The cessation of Sadhana is a grave mistake. Spiritual practices should never be given up under any circumstances. Evil thoughts will be ever waiting to enter the gates of the mental factory. If the aspirant stops his Sadhana, his mind will be Satan's workshop. Do not expect anything. Be sincere and regular in your daily routine, Tapas and meditation. The Sadhana will take care of itself.
Mind your own daily business. The fruit will come by itself. Let me repeat here the words of Lord Krishna-"Thy business is with the action (Tapas, Sadhana and meditation) only, never with its fruits; so let not the fruits of action be thy motive, nor be thou to inaction attached." Your efforts will be crowned with sanguine success by the Lord. It takes a long time for purification of the mind and getting a one-pointed mind. Be cool and patient. Continue your Sadhana regularly.
Be careful in the selection of your companions. Undesirable persons easily shake your faith and belief. Have full faith in your spiritual preceptor and the Sadhana which you are pursuing. Never allow your own convictions to be changed. Continue your Sadhana with zeal and enthusiasm. You will have quick spiritual progress and you will ascend the spiritual ladder step by step and reach the goal ultimately.3. Deha-Adhyasa
When you go in seclusion for intense Tapas and meditation or when you practise intense meditation in a quiet room, do not bother much about your shaving. Let the hair grow. These mechanical thoughts such as thoughts of shaving, etc., will produce great distraction in your mind, and interfere with the continuity of Divine thoughts. Do not think much of the body, bread, clothing, etc. Think more of God or Atman.
Diseases are generated in the body through sleeping in daytime, late vigils overnight, excess of sexual intercourse, moving in crowd, the checking of the urine and the excreta, the evils of unwholesome food, laborious mental work, lack of regular exercise, etc.
If the Yogic student develops some diseases on account of his failure in observing the laws of health and indiscretion, he says, "My diseases have arisen from the practice of Yoga." Then he will discontinue his practice. This is the first obstacle of Yoga.
This body is an instrument for attaining God-realisation. If you do not possess good health, you cannot do any rigorous Yoga-practice and meditation. Therefore keep this body healthy and strong by regular exercise, practice of Asanas and Pranayamas, wholesome food, sunbath, fresh air, cold bath, etc.
Just as clouds screen and obstruct the sun, so also the cloud of sickness stands in your way. Even then you must not leave the practice of Japa, concentration and meditation. These small clouds of sickness will pass off soon. Give the suggestions to the mind. "Even this will pass away." Just as you do not leave your food even for a day, so also you should not leave your spiritual practice even for a day. The mind is ever ready to deceive you and stop you from the practice of meditation. Do not hear the voice of the mind. Hear the sweet voice of the soul.
Meditation itself is a tonic, and a panacea for all diseases. If you are seriously ailing you can do Japa and light meditation while lying on the bed.
5. Discussing Too Much
Some people in whom the reason has developed have got the habit of entering into unnecessary controversies and discussions. They have got Tarkika Buddhi. They cannot remain quiet even for a second. They will create opportunities for heated debates. Too much discussions end in enmity and hostility. Much energy is wasted in useless discussions. Intellect is a help if it is used in the right direction of Atmic Vichara. Intellect is a hindrance if it is used in unnecessary discussions. Intellect takes the aspirant to the threshold of intuition. Thus far and no further. Reason helps in inferring the existence of God and finding out suitable methods for Self-realisation. Intuition transcends reason but does not contradict reason. Intuition is direct perception of Truth. There is no reasoning here. Reasoning concerns matters of the physical place. Wherever there is 'why' and 'wherefore,' there is reasoning. In transcendental matters which are beyond the reach of reason, reason is of no use.
Intellect helps a lot in reflecting and ratiocination. But people in whom reasoning is highly developed become sceptical. Their reason becomes perverted also. They lose faith in Vedas and in the teachings of Mahatmas. They say, "We are rationalists. We cannot believe anything which does not appeal to our reason. We do not believe the Upanishads. We reject anything that does not come within the domain of reason. We have no faith in God and Sat-Gurus." These so-called rationalists are a type of atheists only. It is very difficult to convince them. They have an impure, perverted reason. Thoughts of God cannot enter their brains. They will not do any kind of spiritual Sadhana. They say, "Show us your Brahman of the Upanishads, or Isvara of the Bhaktas." Those who are of doubting nature will perish. Reason is a finite instrument. It cannot explain many mysterious problems of life. Those who are free from the so-called rationalism and scepticism can march in the path of God-realisation.
Give up arguing. Become silent. Look within. All doubts will be cleared. You will get a flash of divine knowledge. The pages of the internal book of divine knowledge will be clearly revealed to you. Practise this and feel.
Aspirants should not indulge in sundry talks and miscellaneous thoughts just to ease the mind. They should be serious. They should think and talk of God alone.
Uncongenial atmosphere, unfavourable environments and obstacles will help you only in carrying on the struggle more vigorously and diligently. You will evolve quickly and develop strong will-power and great power of endurance.
7. Evil Company
The effects of evil company are highly disastrous. The aspirant should shun all sorts of evil company. The mind is filled with bad ideas by contact with evil company. The little faith in God and scriptures also vanishes. A man is known by the company he keeps. Birds of same feather flock together. These are all proverbs or wise maxims. They are quite true.
Just as a nursery is to be well-fenced in the beginning for protection against cows, etc., so also a neophyte should protect himself very carefully from foreign evil influences. Otherwise he is ruined totally. The company of those who speak lies, .who commit adultery, theft, cheating, double-dealing, who are greedy, who indulge in idle talks, backbiting, talebearing, who have no faith in God and in the scriptures, etc., should be strictly avoided. The company of women and of those who associate with women is dangerous.
Bad surroundings, obscene pictures, obscene songs, novels that deal with love, cinemas, theatres, the. sight of pairing of animals, words which give rise to bad ideas in the mind, in short anything that causes evil thoughts in the mind constitute evil company. Aspirants generally complain, "We are doing Sadhana for the last fifteen years. We have not made any solid spiritual progress." The obvious answer is that they have not totally shunned evil company. Newspapers deal with all sorts of worldly topics. Aspirants should entirely give up reading of newspapers. Reading of newspapers kindles worldly Samskaras, causes sensational excitement in the mind, makes the mind outgoing, produces an impression that the world is a solid reality and makes one forget the Truth that lies underneath these names and forms.
This is a detestable old habit of man. It clings to him tenaciously. The mind of the aspirant who always tries to poke his nose into the affairs of other men is always outgoing. How can he think of God when his mind is ever engaged in finding the faults of others? If you spend even a fraction of the time that you waste, in finding your own faults, you would become a great saint by this time. Why do you care for the faults of others? Improve yourself first. Reform yourself first. Purify yourself first. Wash the impurities of your own mind. He who applies himself diligently to his spiritual practices cannot find even a single second to look into the affairs of others. If the fault-finding nature dies, there will be no occasion for criticising others. Much time is wasted in backbiting, talebearing, scandal-mongering, etc. Time is most precious. We do not know when Lord Yama will take away our lives. Every second must be utilised in Divine Contemplation. Let the world have its own ways. Mind your own affairs. Clean your mental factory. That man who does not interfere with others is the most peaceful man in the world.
9. Habit of Self-Justification
This is a very dangerous habit for an aspirant. It is an old-standing habit. Self-assertion, self-sufficiency, obstinacy, dissimulating, speaking falsehood are the constant retinues or attendants of self-justification. He who has developed this can never improve himself as he will never admit his faults. He will always try his level best to justify himself in various ways. He will not hesitate to tell several lies to support his false statements. He will tell one lie to cover another lie, and he will speak lies ad infinitum. The aspirant should always admit his faults, mistakes, weaknesses, etc., then and there. Then only he can improve quickly.
Impulses disturb meditation. All obscure subconscious impulses should be controlled by the intellect and the will.
Sex-impulse and ambition are two great disturbing factors in meditation. They carry on guerrilla warfare. They attack the Sadhakas again and again. They appear to be thinned out for sometime. They get revived often. They should be extirpated by great efforts, Vichara, Viveka (power of discrimination between Atman and Anatman, Self and non-Self) and Sivoham-Bhavana.
11. Impure and Immoderate Food
Aharashuddhau satwashuddhih; Sattvashuddhau dhruva smritih; Smritilabhe sarvagranthinam vipramokshah
-Chhandogya Upanishad: 7-26-2.
"In pure food there is a pure nature, in a pure nature there is firm fixation of memory, in a firm memory there is release from all knots (of the heart)."
Mind is formed out of the subtlest portion of food. If the food is impure, the mind also becomes impure. This is the dictum of sages and psychologists. Food plays an important part in the evolution of mind. It has direct influence on the mind. Meat, fish, eggs, stale, unwholesome food, onions, garlic, etc., should be avoided by spiritual practitioners as they excite passion and anger. The food should be simple, bland, light, wholesome and nutritious. Liquors and narcotics should be strictly abandoned. Chillies, condiments, spiced dishes, pungent articles, hot things, things that are sour, sweetmeats, etc., must be rejected.
In the Gita you will find: "The foods that augment vitality, energy, vigour, health, joy and cheerfulness, are delicious, bland, substantial, agreeable, and dear to the pure. The passionate desire foods that are burning, and which produce pain, grief and sickness. That which is stale and flat, putrid and corrupt, leavings and also unclean, is the food dear to the dark"-(Ch. XVIII-8, 9, 10). Aspirants should not overload the stomach. Ninety per cent of diseases take their origin in immoderation in diet. People have developed a strong habit of eating more food than what is actually necessary from their very boyhood. Hindu mothers stuff the stomachs of their children with too much food. This is not the way of caressing and loving children. Overloading brings drowsiness and sleep immediately. If there is no hunger, you must not take any food. The night meals should be very light for Sadhakas. Half a seer of milk with one or two plantains is quite sufficient. Overloading is the chief factor in bringing night-pollutions. Sannyasins and aspirants should take their Bhiksha from the hands of those householders who earn their livelihood by honest means.
12. Irregularity in Sadhana
This is also a great obstacle in the path of realisation. Just as a man is regular in taking his food, so also he must be strictly regular in his Sadhana. He must get up punctually at 3.30 or 4 a.m. and start his Japa and meditation. One can get the meditative mood quite easily without effort if he does his Sadhana in fixed hours, both morning and night. In winter one can have four sittings. One should have the same pose, the same room, the same seat, the same Bhava or the same mental attitude and the same hours for meditation. Everybody should have his daily routine or Dinacharya and should strictly adhere to it at all costs. Leniency to the mind will upset the whole programme. One should meditate regularly. He should do the spiritual Sadhana untiringly with indefatigable energy, asinine patience, adamantine will and iron determination. Then Only sure success is possible. Meals should be taken at regular hours. One should go to sleep at fixed time and get up at fixed time. See how the sun is very regular in its rising and daily work!
In the beginning of your practice you may get jerks of hands, legs, trunk and whole body. Sometimes the jerk is very terrible. Do not be afraid. Do not be troubled. It is nothing. It can do nothing. It is due to sudden muscular contraction from new Pranic influence or new nerve stimuli. Remember that new nerve-currents are formed now owing to the purification of Nadis from Sadhana. The jerks will pass off after some time. At times there is tremor of the body during meditation. This is due to the Prana being taken up to the brain in the process of meditation from the trunk, etc. Do not be afraid. Do not stop the meditation. You will have to pass through all these stages. When you get these, you are improving. You are progressing. Plod on and persevere. Be cheerful. Help is from within, from the Antaryamin, from the Sakshi, from Kutastha-Pratyag-Atman. These are all new sensations. During meditation, some people draw inspiration and compose beautiful poems. Record them, if you get this poetic inspiration.
14. Lack of Brahmacharya
No spiritual progress is possible without the practice of celibacy. The semen is a dynamic force. It should be converted into Ojas or spiritual energy by pure thoughts, Japa and meditation. Those who are very eager to have God-realisation should observe unbroken celibacy strictly. Householders break their vows owing to their weakness and hence do not find much advancement in spiritual path. They rise two steps in the spiritual ladder and fall down immediately to the ground by lack of celibacy. This is a sad mistake. They should sleep separately. They should be very serious. They should understand clearly the gravity of the situation. Taking a vow is a very sacred act. It must be kept up at all costs. Man only is the real culprit. He violates rules and laws. Women have got greater self-restraint than men, though Sastras say that they are eight times more passionate than men.
Remember the advantages of Brahmacharya and evils of loss of semen. Wastage of semen brings nervous weakness, exhaustion and premature death. Sexual act destroys vigour of mind, body and Indriyas and annihilates memory, understanding and intellect. This body is meant for God-realisation. It must be well utilised for higher, spiritual purpose. It is very difficult to get a human birth. Remember those Brahmachari-Saints who had earned undying reputation and glory. You can also achieve greatness if you preserve this vital energy and utilise it for divine contemplation. You are not crawling now. You have learnt to stand up and walk. You are a man. Behave like a real man. Observe the vow of Brahmacharya strictly. Let your wife also understand and realise the importance and glory of Brahmacharya. Get for her religious books for daily study. Ask her to fast on Ekadasi and to do Japa of any Mantra 21,600 times daily. Take refuge in God's name and Japa. All obstacles will be removed, and you can keep up this sacred vow.
St. Paul said, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman." Lord Buddha said, "A wise man should avoid married life as if it were a burning pit 'of live coal."
Ojas is spiritual energy that is stored up in the brain. By sublime thoughts, meditation, Japa, worship and Pranayama the sexual energy can be transmuted into Ojas Shakti and be stored up in the brain. This energy can be utilised for divine contemplation and spiritual pursuits.
Anger and muscular energy can also be transmuted into Ojas. A man who has great deal of Ojas in his brain can turn out immense mental work. He is very intelligent. He has a magnetic aura in his face and lustrous eyes. He can influence people by speaking a few words. A short speech can produce tremendous impression on the minds of hearers. His speech is thrilling. He has an awe-inspiring personality. Sri Sankara, an Akhanda-Brahmacharin, worked wonders through his power of Ojas. He did Dig-vijaya and held controversies and heated debates in different parts of India with the learned scholars through his power of Ojas. A Yogi always directs his attention to the accumulation of this divine energy by unbroken chastity.16. Lack of Yama and Niyama
You are not able to enter into Samadhi because you are not able to practise meditation. You are not able to do profound meditation because you are not able to fix the mind steadily or concentrate. You are not able to concentrate properly because you are not able to practise Pratyahara or the withdrawal of the senses from the objects thoroughly. You are not able to practise Pratyahara thoroughly because you have not obtained mastery over Asana and Pranayama and you are established in Yama and Niyama, which are the foundation of Yoga.
17. Lingual Diarrhoea
Too much talking is one of the bad habits which lessen the spiritual power. If a man talks too much he suffers from diarrhoea of the tongue. Quiet people cannot sit even for a second in the company of those loquacious or garrulous people. They will talk five hundred words per second. There is an electric talking-dynamo in their tongues. They are restless people. If you lock these people for a day in a solitary room, they will die. Much energy is wasted by too much talking. The energy that is spend in talking must be conserved and utilised for divine contemplation. The Vak-Indriya distracts the mind considerably. A talkative man cannot dream of having peace even for a short time. As aspirant should talk only a few words when necessary and that too on spiritual matters only. A talkative man is unfit for the spiritual path. Practise Mouna daily for two hours and especially during meals. On Sundays observe full Mouna for 24 hours. Do a lot of Japa and meditation during Mouna. The Mouna that is observed during meditation cannot be taken as vow of silence. Then sleep also should be taken as Mouna. Mouna should be observed by householders at such a time when there are great opportunities for talking and when visitors come to meet. Now only the impulse of speech can be checked. Ladies are very talkative. They create troubles in the house by idle talks and gossiping. They should observe Mouna particularly. You should speak measured words only. Too much talking is Rajasic nature. Great peace comes by observance of Mouna. By gradual practice, prolong the period of Mouna to three months.
18. Need for a Preceptor
"If these Truths have been told to a high-souled one, who has supreme devotion to God and as much devotion to his Guru or preceptor as to God, then only they will shine forth, then only they will shine forth indeed."
The spiritual path is thorny, rugged and precipitous. It is enveloped by darkness. The guidance of a Guru who has already trodden the path is imperatively necessary. He will be able to throw light and remove the obstacles in the path. The knowledge of the Self is revealed through Parampara and handed down from Guru to the disciple in succession. Matsyendranath taught Brahma-Vidya to Nivrittinath. Nivritti-nath gave the knowledge to Jnanadev, and so on. Gaudapada initiated Govindapada into the mysterious of Kaivalyam. Govindapada instructed Sankaracharya. Sankaracharya instructed Sureshvaracharya and so on.
The spiritual path is quite different line altogether. It is not like writing a thesis for M.A. examination. The help of a teacher is necessary at every moment. Young aspirants become self-sufficient, arrogant, and self-assertive in these days. They do not care to carry out the orders of a Guru. They do not wish to have a Guru. They want independence from the very beginning. They apply in an absurd manner with a perverted intellect the 'Neti-Neti' doctrine and Bhaga-Tyaga-Lakshana in the case of Guru also and say: "Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma -Na Gurur Na Sishyah-Chidananda Rupah Sivoham Sivoham." They think they are in the Turiya Avastha, when they do not know even the A.B.C. of spirituality of truth. This is the philosophy of Asuras or devils or Satans. They mistake licentiousness or "having their own ways and sweet will," as freedom. This is a serious, lamentable mistake. That is the reason why they do not grow. They lose the faith in the efficacy of Sadhana and in the existence of God. They wander about in a happy-go-lucky manner without any aim from Kashmir to Gangotri and from Gangotri to Rameswaram, talking some nonsense on the way, something from Vichar Sagar, something from Panchadasi, and posing as Jivanmuktas.
He who lives under the guidance of a Guru for twelve years, who carries out implicitly the orders of the Guru, who serves the Guru sincerely taking him for Para Brahman, can really improve in the spiritual path. There is no other way for spiritual progress. So long as there is world, there are spiritual teachers and spiritual books. The number of Jivanmuktas may be less in Kali Yuga than in Satya Yuga. If you cannot get an ideal Guru, you can take even a senior aspirant who has been treading the path of realisation for some years, who is straightforward and honest, who is selfless, who is free from pride, egoism, who has good character, who has knowledge of Sastras, as your Guru. Live with him for some time. Study him carefully. If you are satisfied, take him as your preceptor and follow his instructions strictly. After you have accepted him once as your Guru, never suspect him and never find fault with him. Do not change the Guru very often. You will be bewildered. You will get different conflicting ideas. Everybody has got his own Sadhana. You will find no improvement if you change frequently your method of Sadhana. Stick to one Guru and stick to his instructions. Stick to one method. You will evolve quickly. Single-minded devotion to Guru, ideal, one kind of Sadhana and whole-hearted application are indispensable requisites for God-realisation.
Beware of pseudo-gurus. They are knocking about in abundance in these days. They will exhibit some tricks or feats to attract people. Think that those who are proud, who are roaming about to make disciples and to amass money, who talk of worldly matters, who speak untruth, who boast of themselves, who are talkative, who keep company with worldly people and women, and who are luxurious, are impostors. Do not be deceived by their sweet talks and lectures.
In this connection it will not be out of place to mention the story of a man who was in search of a Sadguru. He found out at last one Sadguru. The student asked the Guru, "O venerable Sir, give me Upadesha." The Guru asked, "What sort of Upadesha do you want?" The disciple asked, "O Beloved Master! Who is superior; disciple or Guru?" The Guru said,
"Guru is superior to disciple." The disciple said, "O Beloved Guru! Make me a Guru. I like that." Such disciples are plenty in these days.
19. Overeating, etc.
Overloading the stomach, work that produces fatigue or overwork, too much talking, taking heavy food at night, too much mixing with people, are obstacles in the path of Yoga. You should not practise Yoga when you suffer from dyspepsia, sour belching, vomiting, diarrhoea or any other disease, and also when you are too much depressed or fatigued.
20. Poor Health
God-realisation is not possible without Sadhana or spiritual practice. Spiritual practice is not possible without good health. A sickly, dilapidated body stands in the way of doing Abhyasa or discipline. The aspirant should try his level best to keep good health always by regular exercise, Asana, Pranayama, moderation in diet, walking, running in open air, regularity in his work, meals, sleep, etc. He should avoid drugging as much as possible. He must take recourse to nature-cure such as fresh air, wholesome food, cold bath and dietetic adjustment. He should always keep a cheerful attitude of mind under all conditions of life. Cheerfulness is a powerful mental tonic. There is intimate connection between body and mind. If one is cheerful, the body is also healthy. That is the reason why doctors now prescribe laughing three times daily in the treatment of diseases.
Some foolish aspirants refuse to take medicine when they are ailing seriously. They say, "It is Prarabdha. We should not go against Prarabdha. Taking medicine is against the Will of God. Body is Mithya. It is Anatman. If I take medicine it will increase Deha Adhyasa or body-idea." This is foolish philosophy. Take medicine. Do Purushartha. Leave the results to Prarabdha. This is Wisdom. These foolish people unnecessarily torture the body, allow the disease to strike deep root and spoil their health. They cannot do any Sadhana. They ruin this instrument by a wrong conception of Vedanta. Vedanta says, "Have no attachment for this body. But keep it clean, strong and healthy for constant, rigid Sadhana. This body is a boat to cross to the other shore of immortality. It is a horse to take you to the destination. Feed the horse well-but give up 'mineness'." Tell me friend, which is better? To take a purgative, to take some medicine for a couple of days, to tide over difficulties in a few days and to start again Sadhana quickly or to neglect the disease, not to take any medicine, to allow the disease to assume a grave form, to suffer for a month or two by negligence, to make the disease chronic and incurable, and to allow the Sadhana to suffer for a month?
There is a class of people in India called the Rasayanas. They try to make the body strong and healthy by taking Siddha-Kalpas. They claim that this body can be made immortal. They say, "This body is an instrument for God-realisation. No realisation of God is possible without a healthy and strong body. Man makes some progress in Yoga and dies before he attains perfection; He takes another birth and then practises Yoga for some years and then dies again. In this way much time is lost in recurring births and deaths. If the body is kept strong and healthy for a long time, a man can have God-realisation in one birth alone." Therefore they prescribe Kalpas made up of nim-essence, nuxvomica, gold, arsenic, sulphur, mercury, etc. No disease can enter a body which is rendered adamantine by a course of these tonics. They begin spiritual Sadhana after making the body quite strong and healthy in the beginning.
21. So-called Friends
The so-called friends are your real enemies. You cannot find even a single, unselfish friend in this universe. Your real friend in need who attends on you sincerely is God, the Indweller of your heart. Worldly friends come to you to get money and other comforts when you are rolling in Rolls Royce, when you have got plenty of money. When you are in adverse circumstances, no one will care to look at you. Even your sons and wife will forsake you. This world is full of avarice, hypocrisy, double-dealing, flattery, untruth, cheating and selfishness. Be careful. Friends come to have idle talk with you and to waste your time. They have no idea of the value of time. They want to pull you down and make you worldly. They will say, "Friend, what are you doing? Earn money as much as possible. Live comfortably now. Eat, drink, be merry. Let us go to talkies. Today there is a good new American Hollywood production running at so and so theatre. There is beautiful American dance. Who knows about the future? Where is God? Where is heaven? There is no rebirth. There is no Mukti. It is all gup and gossip of Pandits. Enjoy now. Why do you fast? There is nothing beyond this world. Give up all Sadhana and meditation. You are wasting your time." You will get such sorts of advices from such worldly friends. Cut off all connections ruthlessly. Do not talk to any of your friends, however sincere he seems to be. Hide yourself away. Live alone at all times. Trust in that Immortal friend only who dwells in your heart. Then alone you are perfectly safe. He will give you whatever you want. Hear His sweet counsel from within with one-pointed mind and follow.
22. Social Nature
Social nature is good for doing Karma Yoga. But it is extremely bad for practising Dhyana Yoga. It drags you out. It makes your mind restless. It invites many friends who disturb you in a variety of ways.
Tandri is half-sleepy state. Alasya is laziness. Nidra is sleep. Laya also means sleep. Alasya and Tandri are the precursors of sleep. These three are great obstacles in the path of realisation. Sleep is a powerful force of Maya. It is Nidra-Sakti.
Laya or mental inactivity is a state which is equivalent to deep sleep. This is as much a source of evil as passion. Wake up the mind in Laya.
You will be imagining that you are meditating. The mind will immediately run through the old grooves into the Mula-Ajnana for resting in the twinkling of an eye. You will be doubting: "Did I go to sleep? Or did 1 meditate now? I think I had a small nap, as I feel heaviness of lids and body now." Sleep is the greatest obstacle as it is very powerful. Even though a Sadhaka is very careful and vigilant, yet it overpowers him somehow or other. This is a very strong habit. It takes time and demands great strength of will to tear this old habit.
Arjuna is called Gudakesa or conqueror of sleep. Lord Sri Krishna addresses him, "O Gudakesa!" Lakshmana also had conquered sleep. Besides these two persons who had conquered sleep, we have not heard of anyone. There are people who have reduced the sleep to 2 or 3 hours. Even Yogins and Jnanins sleep for two or three hours. Sleep is a psychological phenomenon. Brain needs rest at least for a short time. Otherwise man feels drowsy and tired. He can neither work nor meditate. The sleep of a Jnani is different from the sleep of a worldly man. In a Jnani the powerful Samskaras of Brahma-Abhyasa are there. It is something akin to Brahma-Nishtha. One should be careful in reducing his sleep.
This is the way to reduce your sleep. Reduce it gradually. For the first four months go to bed at 11 p.m. and get up 4 a.m. Have sleep for five hours. For the next four months go to bed at 12 p.m. and get up at 4 a.m. Have sleep for four hours. For the next four months go to bed at 12 p.m. and get up at 3 a.m. Thus gradually reduce the hours of sleep.
Sadhakas can gain time for their Sadhana by reducing sleep. The practice of reducing sleep will be very troublesome in the beginning. When the habits are changed, it will be pleasant in the end.
Give up rice and heavy meal at night. Take light food, such as milk and fruits at night. You will be able to get up in the early morning. Sleep will not overpower you during meditation. Tamas enters and sleep supervenes an hour after you have started meditation.
Practise Sirshasana, Sarvangasana, Bhujangasana, Salabh-asana and Dhanurasana. Do a little Pranayama before you start meditation. You will not become sleepy during meditation.
Sometimes during the course of meditation the mind suddenly slips into its old grooves for sleeping. Aspirants think that they are meditating while they are actually sleeping. Dash cold water on the face. Stand up and sing, and do vigorous Kirtan for five or ten minutes. You can drive off sleep easily. Keep the light burning if sleep comes in.
When meditation becomes habitual, when the habit of getting up at 4 a.m. is well established, when you take light food at night, sleep will not trouble you at all during meditation. When sleep tries to overpower you, repeat the Mantra loudly for some time. Sit in Vajrasana.
Aspirants do meditation in the morning for one hour between 4 and 5 a.m. Then they are overpowered by sleep. They begin to sleep again after 5 a.m. This is a general complaint. Do 10 or 20 rounds of Pranayama at 5 a.m. Do Sirshasana for 2 minutes. Again you will be fresh for meditation. Use your common-sense always. The old habits may recur again and again. Tear it off again and again by suitable practices, by strength of will, by prayer, etc. The Practice of keeping vigil on Sivaratri and Sri Krishna Janmashtami is highly commendable. The Christians also keep vigil on Christmas and New Year's nights.
During meditation, sleep overpowers the aspirant. He begins to doubt whether he was meditating or sleeping. If one is really meditating, his body will be light and his mind will be cheerful. If he is sleeping, the body will be heavy, the mind will be dull and the eye-lids will be heavy.
24. Vulgar Pleasures
Scents, soft beds, novel reading, dramas, theatres, cinemas, vulgar music, dancing, flowers, company of women, Rajasic diet, all these excite passions and cause disturbance of the mind. Too much salt, too many chillies, too many sweets cause intense thirst and disturb meditation. Too much talking, too much walking, too much working and too much mixing disturb the mind in meditation.
Artha (wealth) is really Anartha (evil). To earn wealth is painful. To protect the wealth is still more painful. If
wealth is reduced, it is also painful. If it is lost, it gives unbearable pain. You cannot earn and amass wealth without doing great sins. Wealth brings much anxiety. Therefore, shun wealth.
Retired officers remain on the banks of Ganga and practise Japa and meditation for several years, but they do not make any solid progress. Why? Because they utilise their big pension for themselves, and for their sons and daughters. They do not spend it in charity. They depend upon money for everything.
Let them spend all their money in charity and rely on God. Let them live on Bhiksha. They will surely have solid spiritual progress.